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GREEN WAVE PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND THE IRANIAN ELECTION
JUL 6, 2009 - 11:24AM PST
by Naomi Leight
Media Coverage of the Iranian Election and Opposition Protests The June 12 presidential election in Iran has brought the impact of new media use by foreign publics to communicate with and advocate for one another to the forefront of global news media. Shortly after Ahmadinejad was pronounced the definitive winner of the election, the Iranian opposition, led by Mir Hussein Moussavi, took to the streets of Iran to protest the results. In an effort to suppress the coverage of these protests, the Iranian regime forbade foreign journalists from reporting on events throughout the country, disconnected cellular phone and SMS services, and slowed the internet to an almost unusable speed. These events gave rise to the coverage of the post-election protests through new media such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Flickr. As a result, new media became the primary source for on-the-ground information not only for Iranians communicating with each other, but for traditional media sources and the global public. Within two weeks of the Iranian election, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) produced an expanded version of their weekly New Media Index. Their research found that the topic of the Iranian elections dominated blogs, Twitter and other new media sites far more than it did in the mainstream media. PEJ also reported that 98% of the links on Twitter were about the Iranian elections and subsequent protests during the week of June 15-19 and that 63% of links posted in blogs and other new media sources focused specifically on the Iranian elections. According to PEJ, traditional media covered the Iranian elections to a much lesser degree, representing only 28% of press coverage for the same time period. Public Diplomacy and New Media: International Broadcasting in the 21st Century Traditional media outlets, unable to report on the opposition protests first-hand, were forced to rely on new media coverageof the post-election situation in Iran. The new “citizen journalist” became the link to the outside for the Iranian opposition. With the entire world relying on these new media sources, Twitter, along with YouTube, Facebook and Flickr, brought two-way communication between foreign publics to a new level. Traditionally, international broadcasting is dominated by broadcasting radio programs to foreign publics through government sponsored radio stations and websites such as Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Governments have historically relied on these programs as well as editorials in newspapers and speeches in order to connect with foreign publics. The dominance of new media usage by the Iranian public demonstrates that foreign publics no longer need government intermediaries to listen to and connect with each other. The Iranian opposition not only reached out to foreign publics to hear their voices, but it called on people around the world to spread their message of opposition and relay information about events occurring in Iran. In short, public diplomacy has taken place on a massive global scale between foreign publics through the use of new media thanks to this hotly contested election. And while the…... FULL TEXT
Green Wave PD and the Iranian Elections
YouTube Diplomacy and Iran
(Huffington Post, 17 Jun 2009)
The Ayatollah is basically powerless against this technology: Block the Internet, cut out the computer, and a YouTube video will still circulate amongst citizens in other formats. Cut mobile telephone services, and a user will find a way to communicate via Twitter online. Block Internet access and users will find foreign-hosted proxy servers communicated via Twitter
The Revolution Will Be Twittered
(The Atlantic (Andrew Sullivan), 14 Jun 2009)
That a new information technology could be improvised for this purpose so swiftly is a sign of the times. It reveals in Iran what the Obama campaign revealed in the United States. You cannot stop people any longer. You cannot control them any longer. They can bypass your established media; they can broadcast to one another; they can organize as never before.
Persian Abyss: Iranian Reactions From Across Social Media Outlets
(The Jerusalem Post, 14 Jun 2009)
Following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 'landslide' victory in Iran's national elections on Saturday, reports of violent protests - with video and photo evidence - have circulated at breakneck speed on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets as well as on non-mainstream media websites.
Dear CNN, Please Check Twitter For News About Iran
(The New York Times, 14 Jun 2009)
The western world's most feared government is shaking with insurrection in the streets after a contested election and the leading name in news, CNN, is shockingly absent from the story. Twitter, meanwhile, is how Iranians are communicating with the outside world. It's the best place to follow events going on in that country and CNN's failure to engage with the story is one of the hottest topics of conversation there.
Iran Updates (Video): Live-Blogging The Uprising
(The Huffington Post, 15 Jun 2009)
Liveblogging the latest Iran election fallout.
Videos and Photos from Protests in Tehran
(Tehran 24, 15 Jun 2009)
A site with considerable videos and photos of the ongoing clashes in Iran.
Tear Gas and Twitter: Iranians Take Their Protest Online
(CNN, 15 Jun 2009)
Iranian protesters have found a new outlet to mobilize and take action. The presidential election has proved how much opposition supporters can demand change without necessarily taking to the streets. Just give them a computer and an Internet connection and watch what they can do.
The Revolution Will Be Twittered
(The Atlantic (Marc Ambinder), 15 Jun 2009)
It's too easy to call the weekend's activities the first revolution that was Twittered, but when histories of the Iranian election are written, Twitter will doubtless be cast as a protagonal technology that enabled the powerless to survive a brutal crackdown and information blackout by the ruling authorities.
State Department to Twitter: Keep Iranian Tweets Coming
(CNN Blogs - AC360 , 17 Jun 2009)
By necessity, the US is staying hands off of the election drama playing out in Iran, and officials say they are not providing messages to Iranians or “quarterbacking” the disputed election process. But they do want to make sure the technology is able to play its sorely-needed role in the crisis, which is why the State Department is advising social networking sites to make sure their networks stay up and running for Iranians to use them and helping them stay ahead of anyone who would try to shut them down.
More on Twitter and protests in Tehran
(Foreign Policy, 17 Jun 2009)
So back to cyber-protests in Tehran! One of the most discussed online initiatives of the last 24 hours has been a campaign to change users' Twitter location to Tehran. This has been done in order to confuse the authorities about the real users tweeting from Tehran and thus make it safer for them to continue operating.
Social Networks Spread Defiance Online
(The New York Times, 16 Jun 2009)
As the embattled government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appears to be trying to limit Internet access and communications in Iran, new kinds of social media are challenging those traditional levers of state media control and allowing Iranians to find novel ways around the restrictions.
Iran Protests: Twitter, the Medium of the Movement
(Time, 17 Jun 2009)
The U.S. State Department doesn't usually take an interest in the maintenance schedules of dotcom start-ups. But over the weekend, officials there reached out to Twitter and asked them to delay a network upgrade that was scheduled for Monday night. The reason? To protect the interests of Iranians using the service to protest the presidential election that took place on June 12
Green Wave Public Diplomacy and the Iranian Elections
(, 18 Jun 2009)
The Tweet Heard ‘Round Tehran: A New Channel of Public Diplomacy?
(The Moderate Voice, 19 Jun 2009)
witter, and other new media, have given a global voice to the angst over the elections and have made the intensity of those marching in Tehran palpable to those sitting on the couch watching halfway around the world. Most importantly, the social networking phenomenon has undermined the Iranian regime’s attempts to isolate its country from the rest of the world and has, perhaps, opened a new chapter of informal public diplomacy efforts.
Iran's Struggle For Free Expression On Twitter
(NPR- All Tech Considered, 15 Jun 2009)
At its technical core, it's people pointing to online servers that government censors haven't yet blocked and that can relay news, information and social networking sites like Twitter.
In Iran Protest, Online World is Watching, Acting
(CNN, 19 Jun 2009)
"It's a kind of civilian diplomacy," [Clay Shirky] said. "The regime will certainly use this as evidence of American meddling and it is American meddling," he said. "It's just not meddling by the American state."
The Iranian Uprisings and the Challenge of the New Media
(Counterpunch, 20 Jun 2009)
As the uprisings in Iran illustrate, the new electronic technologies and social networks they have produced have transformed both the landscape of media production and reception, and the ability of state power to define the borders and boundaries of what constitutes the very nature of political engagement.
The Challenges To Turning Off The Internet In Iran
(NPR, 17 Jun 2009)
While the [Iranian] government has cracked down on dissent in the streets, it's having a harder time quieting electronic dissent. Which raises the question: Why doesn't the Iranian government just turn off the Internet? Answer: That's easier said than done.
Social Media Allows Reports Despite Tehran's Curbs
(NPR, 16 Jun 2009)
"Thankfully, due to technology, what's happening in Iran is being documented by Iranians," she says by phone from Tehran. Iranians equipped with digital cameras or even just camera phones are creating and sharing footage of developments. Social media sites such as Flickr, Twitter and Facebook have become saturated with material from Iran.
In Iran, The Revolution Will Be Tagged
(NPR, 19 Jun 2009)
Now combine that journalistic enthusiasm toward Twitter with the Iran protest story, and it's hard to resist covering it as something momentous. But how do you reconcile this pronouncement with the fact that only a small number of protesters are actively using Twitter?
Twitter's Impact On Iran Protests Examined
(NPR, 19 Jun 2009)
A common observation in the protests in Iran is that demonstrators are using Twitter and other social media to communicate in the face of government censorship of traditional media. Ethan Zuckerman, a senior researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, says though some protesters used Twitter, most of the organizing happened the old-fashioned way.
Twitter on the Barricades: Six Lessons Learned
(The New York Times, 22 Jun 2009)
Twitter did prove to be a crucial tool in the cat-and-mouse game between the opposition and the government over enlisting world opinion. As the Iranian government restricts journalists’ access to events, the protesters have used Twitter’s agile communication system to direct the public and journalists alike to video, photographs and written material related to the protests.
Iran Roundup: "It Is Your Duty to Report"
(Techpresident.com, 23 Jun 2009)
One strain worth noting today: how the coverage of events circulates around the Internet now that there is an absence of coverage by foreign journalists on the ground in Iran, and the challenges that poses for verifying all that we're seeing, hearing, and reading.
U.S. Scrambles for Information on Iran
(The New York Times, 23 Jun 2009)
With no diplomatic relations and with foreign journalists largely expelled from the country, [the Obama] administration that was already struggling to make sense of Iran finds itself picking up tidbits about the crisis in the same ways private citizens do: viewing amateur videos on YouTube and combing posts on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Neda, The Image of Iran
(The Guardian, 23 Jun 2009)
In their not-so-slow transition from a campaign of civil disobedience to potentially a nascent revolution, the street protests over the presidential election result in Tehran have found an icon. Neda Agha Soltani typified.
Special VOA Newscasts Keep Iranians Informed
(Rush PR News, 23 Jun 2009)
As videos, pictures, e-mails and calls from Iran poured into the Voice of America (VOA), the U.S. international broadcaster introduced a two-hour Special Report to keep its millions of viewers informed.
Iran, Technology, and Revolution
(Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH), 29 Jun 2009)
The role of technology in the current unrest is well-covered elsewhere. What is lacking in much of the coverage, however, is a sense of context. Technology has been essential both to empire formation and preservation, and to state degradation in the Middle East.
Liberation Technology: Social Media and Political Movements
(KCRW, 23 Jun 2009)
With media blocked, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have become the main conduits for news out of Iran. What's the impact of social media on political movements? Ruth Seymour and KCRW's director of new media Anil Dewan talk with new media big thinkers Philip Sieb, Evgeny Morosov, Jonathan Zittrain.
Aftermath of Iran's Election
(WorldPress.org, 24 Jun 2009)
A collection of commentary from Iran's blogosphere.
The Repercussions of a 'Twitter Revolution'
(The Boston Globe, 21 Jun 2009)
If revolutions had mascots, the one unfolding in the streets of Tehran would be forever linked with an iPhone. After all, what better match for the “Twitter revolution,’’ as some pundits have already dubbed the Iranian protests?
When the Revolution Isn't Broadcast
(The Boston Globe, 29 Jun 2009)
In Iran, the Persian-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty uses several different radio frequencies and the Internet, while Voice of America’s Persian television service claims to reach more than 15 million viewers. Accurate audience measures are hard to come by in places like Iran. But the fact that Tehran spends a huge amount of money jamming these channels and blocking their websites tells us something.
Iran Upholds Ahmadinejad Victory After Partial Recount
(The Daily Star, 30 Jun 2009)
Iran's election oversight body on Monday declared the hotly disputed presidential vote to be valid after a partial recount, rejecting opposition allegations of fraud and calls for a new vote. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi claims he, not incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was the rightful winner and has called for a new election, something the government has repeatedly said it will not do.
140 Characters of Protest
(Pew Research Center, 26 Jun 2009)
From blogs to "tweets" to personal Web pages, the topic dominated the online conversation far more than in the mainstream media as users passed along news, supported the protestors and shared ideas on how to use communication technology most effectively.
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